What is strength training?
Strength training is weight based exercise designed to improve your muscle strength, posture, stability and mobility. Compared to resistance training which is generally a body weight exercise or done using resistance bands, strength training uses dumbbells, kettlebells or even barbells to load the body with a weight for each exercise.
Why should women strength train?
There are so many reasons why us chicks should lift weights.
It makes us stronger physically and mentally so that we can tackle anything our day brings. It increases bone density and reduces risk of injury and pain, making those trips from the supermarket with one child in one arm and 4 bags on the other arm seem like a warmup set for your upper body session you're doing when you get home.
Lifting weights also reduces inflammation and the risk of chronic diseases like type 2 diabets.
- Lowers cholesterol
- Improves stress
- Increases muscle mass
- Improves body composition (the ratio of body fat to muscle you have)
- Improves posture
- Decreased risk of injury
- Increases bone density
- Improves sleep
Will strength training make you 'bulk up'?
I get asked this question all the time. It all comes down to what you put on your plate and how much energy you exert. We need to eat a balanced diet made up of the right amount of macronutrients (protein, fats and carbs). This balance is different for everyone based on their body composition, how active they are and their goals, whether that be to gain muscle mass, lose weight, lift heavier etc.
What kit do I need to start?
You can start off with a light - medium pair of dumbbells. I would suggest a 2kg or 3kg pair to get you moving. Once you find this isn't challenging you on your last few reps for that exercise, you will get excited and probably want to look at getting a medium pair and maybe a heavy set (3kg, 6kg, 9kg). This way you can progress with your training and get stronger as the weeks go on. Alternatively, you can always add an extra set, or a few reps on the end of the set, if you don't have access to heavier weights.
How do I build strength?
To build your strength, you have to be consistent with your training. Follow your program and stick with it. Strength training is all a progressive program, and we can't move to the next stage of our training if we are just dabbling in a strength session every other week. So stick with it!
How quickly can I build strength?
When you follow a weight training program you will start to notice after the first few weeks the exercises you first started on are not as hard as they once were. You’ll likely notice that you're opting for a heavier weight and you can even do a few more reps than usual. Programs are generally designed for 12 weeks, within which there are four week mini blocks which focus on specific goals, all working towards our end goal.
Can I build strength without weights?
Yes, you can use random things around the house to load the body with a weight. Items I often use if I'm on holidays or don't have access to weights:
- Milk cartons or water bottles filled with water
- A backpack filled; or
- A bottle of vino.... somehow this ends up feeling lighter towards the end of the session?!
5 strength training tips for beginners?
- Focus on technique – this is super important. You need to take it slow, follow instructions and execute the exercises safely and correctly so that you are using the correct muscle groups and getting the most out of the exercises intended purpose.
- Start light – start off with a light weight so that you don't compromise on technique and can finish the whole workout. Don't want to go too hard too soon, as your next session will be out-of-this-world hard. Slow and steady!
- Follow a program – this way you are hitting all muscle groups for your week of training, and you will build on what you do in your sessions. You're also tracking your progress, which is motivating to see each time you kick those little goals along the way.
- Create your space – designate a little space or corner, even a basket, with all your gear ready. This way it's all there and you have no excuses why you can't enter that space each day for your quick 28 minutes of building a stronger you.
- Have fun! It's meant to be enjoyable and challenging at the same time. Have a laugh.
Beginner strength workout
Here's a 10-minute teaser workout of what you will find on the 28 by Sam Wood app in my strength sessions.
- CRUNCH HOLDS X 10
- GLUTE BRIDGES X 20
- BIRDDOGS X 10
FULL BODY CIRCUIT
- DUMBBELL SQUAT PRESS X 12
- KNEELING ONE ARM ROW X 12 EACH SIDE
- SUMO DEADLIFT X 12
- ONE DUMBELL OVERHEAD PRESS X 12
- PUSH-UP TO THE COUCH / BENCH X 10
X 3 ROUNDS
- HEEL REACH X 20 SECONDS
- TOE REACHES X 20 SECONDS
- BUTTERFLY SIT UPS X 20 SECONDS
X 2 ROUNDS
44 strength training terms and lingo to get familiar with
- Abduction: The movement of a limb away from the centre line of the body.
- Adduction: The movement of a limb towards the centre line of the body.
- Agonist: The muscle whose contraction is directly responsible for moving part of the body.
- Antagonist: The muscle that counteracts the agonist, lengthening whilst the agonist muscle contracts.
- Barbell: A weight used for resistance exercise; a bar with detachable weighted plates at each end.
- Compound exercise: An exercise that involves using more than one muscle or muscle group to perform.
- Concentric: The lifting phase of an exercise, in which the muscle shortens or contracts.
- DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness): The pain or stiffness felt in muscles in the 24-72 hours after heavy exercise.
- Dumbbell: A weight used for exercising; a small handle with either fixed or detachable plates at each end.
- Eccentric: The lowering phase of an exercise, in which the muscle lengthens.
- Extension: The movement of a limb going from a bent to a straight position.
- Failure: The point in an exercise at which the exerciser has fully fatigued their working muscles and can no longer perform any additional reps.
- Flexion: The movement of a limb going from a straight to a bent position. The opposite of extension.
- Form: A specific way of performing a movement or exercise. The correct form should allow the exerciser to avoid injury and maximise their benefits.
- Free weights: Barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells and other similar pieces of equipment that don't have a fixed movement pattern, unlike a cable machine, for example.
- Frequency: How often exercise or the completion of a full workout should happen. Often written as per week.
- Full body training: Training the full body during one workout, rather than splitting workouts up into body parts.
- Hypertrophy: The scientific term meaning an increase in muscle mass and relative muscle strength.
- Intensity: The degree of effort put into each set of exercises.
- Isolation exercise: An exercise that stresses a single muscle, or muscle group, isolating it from the rest of the body.
- Isometric: A muscular contraction where the muscle maintains a constant length and the connecting joint does not move.
- Isotonic: A muscular contraction in which there is a change in the length of the muscle; for example concentric and eccentric movements.
- Mass: The relative size of a muscle group, or the entire body.
- Muscular endurance: The ability of a muscle to sustain repeated contractions against a resistance for an extended period of time.
- Negative reps: Performing multiple reps of only the eccentric phase of a lift or exercise.
- Overload principle (aka progressive overload): Applying a greater than normal stress or load on the body, required for training adaption and progression to occur.
- Partial reps: Performing an exercise without going through the complete range of motion of the muscle.
- PB (Personal Best): The best performance of an exercise; often measured in weight lifted or reps performed in strength training.
- Periodisation: The systematic planning of a training programme to allow the exerciser to reach their best possible performance in a specific time frame.
- Progressive resistance: The increasing of weight used whilst exercising as muscles gain strength and endurance.
- Push/Pull training: A training method in which the push muscles (chest, triceps, quads and lateral and medial deltoids) and pull muscles (back, biceps, read deltoids and hamstrings) are trained on separate days to avoid overstressing the muscles.
- Reps (Repetitions): The number of times an exerciser performs an exercise, or lifts and lowers a weight, in one set.
- Rest: The pause or break between sets designed to allow the muscles to partially recover.
- RPE (Rated Perceived Exhaustion): The scale used to measure the intensity of exercise; 1 being easy and 10 being very strenuous.
- Sets: A group of reps performed back to back, after which a short rest period is taken.
- Split training: Splitting the muscles of the body up so that they are worked in different training sessions or on different days of the week.
- Spotter: A person who watches an exercising partner closely and is on hand to offer help during an exercise if it is needed.
- Strength training: Using resistance training to build maximum muscle force.
- Superset: Alternating back and forth between two exercises until the desired number of sets is complete.
- Tempo: The speed or count of a lift. Depending on the goal of the exercise, the concentric, isometric and eccentric phases are each assigned a count and these together create the tempo.
- Triset: Alternating back and forth between three exercises until the desired number of sets is complete.
- Volume: The number of reps or sets that are performed in a workout.
- Weight: The mass of a barbell, dumbbell or similar piece of equipment used during a workout. Often measured in kg or lbs.
- 1RM (One Rep Max): The heaviest weight a person can lift with maximum effort in a single repetition.